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Yahoo acquires social betting app Wagr to boost fantasy sports operation

Peer-to-peer betting app will bring new monetisation options and community features.

25 April 2023 Steve McCaskill

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  • Wagr raised U$12m in a Series A funding round last year
  • Investors included Patriots and 76ers ownership groups

Yahoo has acquired peer-to-peer sports betting app Wagr in a move that could unlock new revenue opportunities for its fantasy operation in North America.

Wagr was founded by Harvard Business School students Mario Malavé and Eliana Eskinazi, and describes itself as a ‘social wagering’ application that lets friends and communities place bets against each other.

It was the first social sports betting operator in the US to receive a licence in the US and had raised US$16 million, with investors including the ownership groups of the National Football League’s (NFL) New England Patriots and the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Philadelphia 76ers, as well as Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six venture capital firm.

Because Wagr collects stakes from both users and distributes the winnings, it differs slightly from peer-to-peer betting exchange platforms as users are not transferring money between each other. Wagr takes a five per cent transaction fee on every bet so is largely indifferent as to which of the gamblers emerges victorious.

This core platform is enveloped with social feeds, online leaderboards, and chat functionality that enhance the conversation and drive engagement.

“Yahoo Sports offers us a stage to build products that will reach millions of loyal fans that have connected over fantasy sports for decades,” said Malavé.

“The unique combination of Yahoo’s scale and engagement creates opportunities for virtuous product loops between sports media and gaming. Joining Yahoo allows us to continue delivering on our mission to connect fandom to social gaming while elevating our ability to execute through expanded resources, new partnerships and technological capabilities.”

Wagr’s platform will be fully integrated into Yahoo Sports, which is one of the largest fantasy sports operators in North America. It competes not only with traditional rivals like ESPN and first party offerings from major leagues, but also with daily fantasy games run by betting companies like FanDuel and DraftKings.

The addition of Wagr’s social betting features will allow it to monetise Yahoo’s large userbase and reduce the risk of losing customers to rivals who offer the chance to win real cash. Wagr will also bring experience in social mobile app and community development.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Wagr to the Yahoo Sports family,” said Jon Shaw, senior vice president of Yahoo Sports. “While we know our fantasy leagues increase fan engagement and give people something to root for, the real value is in keeping friend groups together through competition and camaraderie around the sports they love.

“Acquiring Wagr creates an immediate opportunity for us to expand into new group formats that can take engagement and friendly competition to the next level.”

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